"Mom Posture," which consists rounded shoulders, a forward head position and an anterior pelvic tilt, results from carrying the baby, nursing, changing - all in that hunched position. If you're not a mom, you could still be in the same boat. Those who sit at a desk all day often develop the same postural distortions and muscle imbalances. On top of the aesthetic downside of this posture (namely the pooch and hunchback), these distortion can cause neck pain, headaches, lower back pain, knee pain and the list goes on and on…
Now here comes the good news…
Targeted stretching and strengthening routines can have you looking better and feeling better in no time (improved posture goes a long way, you can see results relatively quickly and can give you the confidence you need to push forward with a more intense fitness plan). Below you will find a stretching and strengthening routine to fix the roundness in the shoulders, head and neck and anterior pelvic tilt (the pooch).
Complete this routine 3 days a week and you should start noticing a difference in 3-4 weeks. Getting your posture on track NOW is a great way to start a new fitness plan!
Doorway Chest Stretch:
Place each arm on opposite sides of the door frame, forearm and palm against the frame. Step through the door only until you feel a good stretch across your chest. Do not go to the point of pain in your shoulder. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
sFoam Roller Chest Stretch: (bonus if you have one)
Lay back on the foam roller, with it the long way along your spine. Make sure your head is supported. Let your arms fall to either side. Rotate through a variety of arm positions to find the stretch that feels best for you (see image). If you begin to feel numbness in your hands, back off or prop your arms up with a blanket or pillow. Start with 30s and work your way up to a minute. You can also use a folded blanket in the place of a foam roller.
Upper Back and Shoulder Strengthening:
Band pull apart:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and tailbone tucked. Hold the band in each hand with your arms out in front of you at 45 angles. Pull the band back so that your arms are straight out to the side, squeeze your shoulder blades together (keep them down, don't hunch). Return to the starting position and a slow and controlled manner. Start with 2 set of 10 reps, and try to work your way up 3 sets.
Scapular Wall Slides:
Stand with your back against the wall, butt touching and feet about a foot from the wall. With your hands above your head press your forearms into the wall. Slowly bend your arms and slide them down the wall, keeping your forearms pressed into the wall and squeezing your shoulder blades together. End in the shape of a "W" then slowly move back up. If you can't keep your arms pressed against the wall throughout the movement, its ok. Just think about trying to; after a few weeks of the stretches you will get a lot closer!
Lower Body Stretching
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start on all fours, wrists under shoulder and knee under hips. Bring the left leg up between your hands, with foot flat on the ground. Start with both hands on your hips and push your body forward through the hips, stretching that right hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring right arm straight up and lean slightly to the left to go further into the stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds then repeat process on opposite side.
Core and Lower Body Strengthening
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be in a comfortable position so that you back is flat against the floor (not arched). Experiment with different placements of your feet to find the best fit. Take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs. Exhale: Keeping your torso in one flat piece, press your feet into the floor and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up off the mat. Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and straight through you extended leg. Inhale and hold your position. Exhale: Come back down to the mat one vertebra at a time.
Starting with the pushup position is the easiest way to get into the plank. Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your palms should be balled up, and directly underneath your shoulders. Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis and pulling your belly button toward your spine. Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow. Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes. These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise. Hold this position for 20-30s and work your way up to 60s (or more!).
Vacuum (Supine Pelvic Tilt)
*This one is especially great for new mom's with a weakened pelvic floor from pregnancy*
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Next, exhale as much air as possible. This raises your diaphragm and, much like an empty stomach, allows for maximum contraction of the TVA. Lastly, pull your navel in as close to your spine as possible. The more your navel draws in, the more the TVA is contracting. Hold for 15 seconds to start, work your way up to 60s. Repeat for a total of 3 reps.
Fixing your posture is a great way to look and feel great! Good posture can instantly change your appearance. But, vanity aside, prolonged bad posture can cause headaches, neck and back pain, and sap your energy Typically, rounded shoulders are synonymous with weak upper back and shoulder muscles and tight chest muscles. Here are a few stretches and exercises to help combat this common problem. Try these at least three times a week for 3-4 week and you will find yourself feeling more energetic and more confident!
*This is a cut an paste of two blog posts I did a while ago. I just wanted to give you all the posture goodies in one place :) Ain't nobody got time to read 2 blog posts!